China Diary

DAY 61: Sleepless Nights Ahead


It’s surprising how some things can get under your skin without you noticing it. I’m extremely good at blocking things that worry me, but when I’m sleeping the deflector shields are down and I’ll sustain a direct hit to the hull. And only after a night like that I’m able to understand what was it that was bugging me so much. So after a very badly slept night and nightmares, I realized it was this certain actor who was bothering me so much. Indeed, I have never worked with an actor who’s so intense, and his questions and my ability to approach them made me feel inferior. Usually, I’m pretty good with the actors, but now I feel like I may have found my match, and that bugs me. I have to up my game here, which is good: one must challenge oneself on each project, and although this one is much bigger than anything I’ve ever done, it’s quite a natural progression and in that way not really “challenge”, but with this one specific actor, I feel like a chance for me to grow as a director, becoming better at my actual job. But that’s a lot of work, a lot of worrying, a lot of sleepless nights ahead.

The second day of the table read was actually much easier because now we already had discussed all the big questions on each character, we already knew these characters and mostly because by the end of the movie the characters become more active and things move at a faster pace. So instead of 10 hours table read like with the first part, we did what we had to do by lunchtime, and then I headed for a quick lunch with one of the actors to discuss his character in more depth. We had a bunch of great ideas I tried to convey to the writer, but the lack of common language didn’t really help, so I tried acting things out – yelling, jumping around the office, ripping papers and all that jazz to get him excited about a specific idea – but I don’t think he got it, not completely. We’ll see when the next version of the script arrives, I guess.

Then, it was time to head back to Qingdao, for the location scouting and finally to begin the actual technical recce, when all the crew is there and we lay down in exact detail where we place which lamps, what happens to whom and where. Train ride I was reading my new favorite book “What Women Want”, a study in women sexuality and talking a bit with Mika about the progression of the preparations. After a while, Mika dozed off and I tried to work a bit, but for some reason the whole car was packed with SCREAMING CRAZY KIDS! And I mean, INSANE. And the parents did absolutely nothing to calm them down, they were running around the car, jumping on seats, SCREECHING. I was shocked.

Another thing I don’t like about Chinese are that they have no manners when it comes to portable electronics. You wanna watch a video on your device? No problem. Just turn the volume up, so that the whole fucking train car can hear you. Oh, you wanna play a game with super-annoying sound effects? Hell yeah! Just remember never to use headphones, the louder the better the experience, the more you piss off other people, the better!

So when I finally, after five hours of train ride and one hour car-ride, arrived to the hotel, I was absolutely knackered. The room has a huge tub in it, so I decided to make myself a relaxing bath before hitting the bed, getting ready for sitting in the car for the next seven days.

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